Boxing duo kick up a storm
KICKBOXING: IT may not be for everyone, but the sport of kickboxing is fast becoming one of the most popular martial arts in the country.American in origin, the sport combines various Eastern martial arts to create a form of combat that is both a good form of self-defence and great for fitness.
It may not be for everyone, but the sport of kickboxing is fast becoming one of the most popular martial arts in the country.
American in origin, the sport combines various Eastern martial arts to create a form of combat that is both a good form of self-defence and great for fitness.
And at Ipswich's Millennium Martial Arts club, two men are making quite an impact.
Darren Summers and Michael Robinson both compete in the British kickboxing squad and last weekend they took part in a contest in Gorleston against a top team from Marseilles.
Their coach Steve Crawford said: "Both lads did so well. Michael knocked out his opponent in the fourth round and Darren drew his match. The atmosphere was unbelievable. It was like watching Ipswich Town."
Michael, 22, is the Eastern Counties and British champion, while 26-year-old Darren has come out of retirement to compete in the British squad and may soon have the chance to fight the world champion and bring the title to Ipswich.
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"We are a small club, but we often get other clubs ringing us to ask if we will bring fighters to an event," said Steve, the only full-time coach at the Ipswich club.
"The team from Marseilles have already invited us to France for a re-match. I think they were surprised at how fit our team were, I think they thought we'd be a walkover."
In the ring, the full-contact version of the sport is tightly controlled. Essentially, it is a form of boxing where fighters are only allowed to kick or punch above the belt. Rounds are two minutes long with a one-minute rest and in that time each fighter must get in eight kicks to his or her opponent.
Despite the rules, however, 'full-
contact' is exactly as the name suggests. It is a tough sport which demands high levels of fitness and strength.
For the slightly less serious, or mad, there is also a 'semi-contact' form of the sport.
"That form involves no real physical contact," said Steve. "The number of required kicks is higher, at 15, but all you have to do is touch your opponent with a kick or punch to register a hit. Semi-
contact is all about control and balance rather than aggression."
The Millennium club offers training in both sorts of kickboxing and they also offer beginners classes where anyone can learn the basic art of self-defence.
"We call that 'freestyle,'" said Steve. "It's designed to give people confidence and to help them feel a bit safer on the streets. It's been especially popular with women, but we also have a lot of kids taking it up."
So, what about the usual objection to the martial arts and boxing, that they encourage violence?
"It's not about violence, it's about
confidence. Lots of parents seem to be realising that now, that it's a positive thing for their children to get involved with. It encourages self-discipline and enables you to feel safer about walking down the street."
Kickboxing doesn't require huge
levels of fitness. It does take strength but you don't need to be fit to have a go.
"We get a lot of beginners who are not very sporty, and they come on fine," said Steve. "In fact, that's where we get our champions from, because we can teach them from scratch without their having learnt other ways of fighting."
Millennium Martial Arts are holding a semi-contact tournament for beginners on August 5 and anyone is welcome to have a go at kickboxing in safe,
The event starts at 3pm until 6, and in the evening there will be six title fights taking place at the club. It costs £3.50 to get in.
Otherwise, if you are interested in finding out more about kickboxing, go along to a training session, held on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7 and 8pm. The club is at Totally Brilliant on the Whitehouse estate, in Ipswich.
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